The Constitution Center Honors the Document Adopted in Philadelphia in 1787

Constitution Center

The National Constitution Center is located at 525 Arch Street (Arch between 5th and 6th Streets) - here is a view at sunset. To see it in its full glory, just click directly on the photo, to enlarge it.

And the National Constitution Center was opened in order to commemorate the document that was formulated at the then-Pennsylvania State House, over two centuries earlier.

It occupies an entire square block, and its dedication to the U.S. Constitution, and those who framed it, is unequaled. One can visit the museum for an entire day, and still not see and experience everything worthwhile.

Perhaps the most striking aspect of the museum, however, is Signers' Hall. The museum commissioned life-size, bronze sculptures, of all of the delegates who had signed the document. Walking through Signers' Hall, it really strikes the visitor that they were ordinary individuals, when you see them face-to-face.

This is an intriguing fact: the arrangements of the sculptures are not random. Instead, they were placed with a great deal of care. The criterion that was used: how much each Signer agreed with the final compromise, what we know as the Constitution. George Washington, then known as simply General Washington, who served as the symbolic head of the convention, is directly in front; he would take that role in 1788, as the first President of the United States, under the new Constitution.

Accordingly, the closer the statue of the Signer is, to the table in front of Washington, the more that particular Signer was in concordance, with the final result. There were many disagreements, on both major and minor points, and it's safe to say that no particular Signer, not even James Madison, its prime sponsor, agreed completely, with the ultimate outcome of the document.

But at the same time, these Signers - however much they argued over the way to get there - had the extraordinary vision to create a system of government which has lasted for over two centuries, subject to periodic and critical amendments throughout the nation's history.

And the need for an amendment process, as society inevitably changed, was another element that they foresaw. It likely would have astounded the Constitution's authors that their creation would still be in effect over 200 years later. And they likely would have been even more astonished, that there had been a building commissioned- solely to pay tribute to their inestimable accomplishment.

And the Constitution Center is a worthy and fitting tribute to their vision. It is an outstanding visitor experience. Everything is high-tech and cutting-edge, and you'll leave dazzled by the experience.

Traveling to the National Constitution Center

This section between the dividers, added June 11, 2010... SEPTA offers a variety of ways to reach the National Constitution Center.

If you are visiting Philadelphia, between May 1 and Halloween, your best bet is the purple Phlash trolley - which stops nearby.

You also can take the SEPTA Blue Line/Market-Frankford Line/El - all just synonyms for the same service - to the 5th Street station, located at 5th and Market Streets. The National Constitution Center is located at 525 Arch Street, just one and half blocks north.

If you are coming from the more distant parts of the city, or from the suburbs, you are likely better off traveling via SEPTA Regional Rail - nearly every Regional Rail train stops at Market East Station - located at 11th and Market Streets.

If you choose, you can jump on the Blue Line at its 11th Street stop, which you can reach from the train platform, without even going outside. Just follow signs for "Market-Frankford Line", once you're off the train. (You will have to pay again, though, either with cash or a token, unless you have a SEPTA TrailPass).

Once you're at the 11th Street station, make sure you take a train labeled "Eastbound to Frankford". Just ride past 8th Street, down to the 5th Street stop, and follow the directions above.

Also, there are many SEPTA buses operating up and down Market Street. You can emerge from Market East, and just ask any eastbound bus driver, if he/she is going near 5th or 6th Street and Market. If so, just hop on there, and get off at one of those streets, just five or six blocks down.

Finally, if the weather is pleasant, you can just walk from Market East to the Constitution Center - it's only about seven and a half blocks or so.

A Map of the National Constitution Center and the Surrounding Area

View National Constitution Center in a larger map

Getting There

You can visit the museum 362 days a year (and 363 in leap years)- the only days it is shuttered, are Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day. It is open from 9:30 to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday, 9:30 to 6 PM on Saturdays, and 12 noon to 5 PM on Sundays.

An important tip for visiting the museum-

It's absolutely essential, to get there early. You will get lost in the midst of the incredible exhibits, and lose track of time. A common reaction, particularly during your first or second visit, is "I'm running out of time, and I didn't see everything yet!"

So if you go, make it count. This attraction did not make the cut for the One Day Tour of Philadelphia, because one could easily spend the entire day (or weekend) in it. But if you've got a second day in Philadelphia, go for it. You won't regret it.

For the most complete and up-to-date information on the museum's many temporary exhibits, speakers, and presentations, take a look at the official National Constitution Center web site.

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